Together We Can Do Better: Liberty Party USA Response to Calls for Resignation
First Published October 2013
One of the challenges of business executives (or political leadership) is deciding which operational plans to implement in order to achieve the long term strategic goals of the organization. Some operational plans may be effective in the short term but may not have the lasting desired impact when measured against the organization’s long term strategic goals. Such is the case with the current issue surrounding calls for the resignation of President Sirleaf.
Liberty Party through its National Chairman, Cllr. Fonati Koffa, has stated that calling for the resignation of President Sirleaf at this moment may not accomplish the strategic goals of Liberia in the long term, especially when one looks at our history over the last 33 years. Liberty Party USA believes that Liberia’s strategic goal is to establish justice, ensure domestic peace, and promote the general welfare. That means having sustained peace (not just the absence of war), stability, and equal opportunities for all Liberians, as well as having a government with a record for good governance (among others). We believe our actions must take all our strategic goals into consideration, not just one. If our country had a more solid foundation, rehabilitated youths with distant memory of violence, and good government systems already in place, such call could be supported as it would serve an intended purpose. Unfortunately, Liberia is not yet privileged with such because of the poor performance of this administration and the failure of President Sirleaf to curtail corruption. But if the President resigns, will corruption stop when the same corrupt officials and inadequate systems are still in place? Which government officials will we ask to resign along with the President? We do not believe that every individual in government is corrupt. These are issues to ponder.
Despite our stark differences on the issue of President Sirleaf’s resignation, Liberty Party USA feels strongly that those who are calling for the resignation have the constitutional right to do so and should do so without being muzzled. An article written by John Morlu (who spoke fearlessly against corruption as Auditor General), misinterprets Cllr. Koffa’s statement to mean Liberty Party defines the actions of those calling for resignation as unconstitutional. Not so, Cllr. Koffa simply stated that Liberty Party did not see reason compelling enough to support such call for resignation when one looks at some of the long term strategic goals referenced above. Cllr. Koffa stated that “We do not support the interruption of President Sirleaf’s term because there has been no constitutional reason compelling enough for us to call for that and we are not prepared to do so.” He was speaking with a view of the strategic best interest of Liberia from the Party’s position, and not contesting the constitutional right of Liberians to protest this government. We commend those who have expressed their views about Liberty Party’s stance because democracy is well served on the plate of diverse viewpoints; however, I disagree with the conclusions they have drawn from the Chairman’s statements.
The fact that Liberty Party, through its National Chairman, disagrees with those calling for President Sirleaf’s resignation at this time does not mean the party supports corruption as some have stated. To the contrary, Liberty Party has and continues to be outspoken against the shortcomings of this government. In times past, we were even accused of overly criticizing President Sirleaf because of the numerous failures and sheer lack of will on the part of this government that we have highlighted for Liberians and the International community. In his closing remarks in an article on Frontpageafrica, Mr. Aloysius Toe (whom I consider a friend and a former schoolmate from Cathedral) suggests that “The big question is whether Liberty Party can redeem itself under the leadership of Chairman Koffa…” To this question I ask, what will Liberty Party redeem itself from? After years of consistent and professional advocacy, does Liberty Party need redemption because we express an alternative view on an issue on which honest people may differ? Here we have reached a different conclusion from a rather complex situation.
One constant about Liberty Party is that we try to examine both the short and long term consequences of our alternatives before making a decision. We have passionate internal debates about issues and while we may not always get consensus, we come up with one unified decision, not inconsistent press releases and media outbursts from multiple party officials as is prevalent in other political institutions. We approach every issue with the deliberate attention equaled to the potential impact the issue is likely to have on Liberia. And in those areas we need to learn from, we harness the experience to make even better decisions in the future. This, to us, sounds like a prudent, matured decision-making process. Calling for a resignation is not a simple decision, especially when the lives and wellbeing of millions of people depend on that call. Others in our history failed to do due diligence and as a result led us (whether intentional or otherwise) to the firing squads of 1980, the atrocities of 1985, the devastating 14 year civil war and many other actions that had fatal results for hundreds of thousands of Liberians. If we were to ask those who advocated past actions which contributed to the tragedies I enumerated above, especially those who did so innocently, some would say they didn’t imagine such downward spiraling of events. We can no longer afford to allow short term emotions, albeit legitimate and sincere, to negatively affect the long term well being of Liberians and the strategic wellness of the country. Liberty Party, USA therefore expresses support for the Party’s decision to not support calls for the resignation of President Sirleaf at this time.
Liberty Party, USA still believes that the current administration has been grossly negligent in its dealing with corruption, nepotism and cronyism. President Sirleaf’s administration remains a disappointment when one looks at the level of support and financial assistance this administration has received from the International community relative to the results produced for the average Liberian. The average Liberian still struggles to get basic needs after the many failed policies and unfulfilled promises of President Sirleaf. Corruption by government officials is at unprecedented levels as the President’s friends and family members continue to dominate the national government in high ranking and strategic. After years of complaints from the average Liberian about inflation, difficult living condition, poor sanitation, poor quality education, poor judicial system, and crippling joblessness, the current administration has been unable to provide relief. Yet we see President Sirleaf (not her foreign minister) engaged in endless foreign travels, with many of the trips rarely bringing a net positive value to the country. These trips seem to be photo ops intended to elevate the stature of the President Internationally with no concern for the dismal failures and societal degradation domestically. The cost of these consistent foreign trips with a large entourage of people, some without value-added benefit, is an unnecessary burden that the country cannot afford. These are the very reasons prompting advocates of the President’s resignation. We cannot blame these voices for calls of resignation; we should blame President Sirleaf for squandering a gracious opportunity to unify our country and give hope to the next generation. We understand these issues quite well because we have been exposing them for years but we also realize what greater impact that other actions could have on Liberia given our recent history.
We encourage all in the opposition to continue to do the difficult work of expressing the ills of our society and articulating the frustrations of the average Liberian. We also encourage independent minds to do likewise as we all contribute to the wheel of progress in Liberia. And as our country gets accustomed to open debates, let’s teach the next generation, through our writings, to be cautious and not mistake passionate disagreements as symbols of personal disdain or hatred. For our part, we never consider those who disagree with us (or with whom we disagree) as our enemies; rather, we like to think they are viewing the issues from different experiences, backgrounds and filters. We have been very careful to respect the humanity of those with whom we disagree (and that includes President Sirleaf and officials of government), knowing full well that as mothers, brothers, opponents, schoolmates, partisans, and independent minds, we all have a common patrimony to secure the best future for Liberia. Our goal is never to humiliate an opponent but to try and bring about a change of heart by the quality of ideas. It is on this common principle that Liberty Party begins and rests its opposition, knowing full well that together (in agreement or not) we can do better.
Philip B. Suah Jr.
Chairman, Liberty Party USA.